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Adversity Returns, Bringing Questions
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
So much for the playoffs. Or as Jim Mora would say: Playoffs?
So much for the big picture. So much for sunny skies. Sunday's 34-13 smackdown at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals was a harsh reality check for St. Louis.
At 2-6, the Rams remain mathematically alive, but any realistic hopes of postseason football for the first time since 2004 went out the window in that horrendous second quarter against the Big Red.
And take it from coach Jim Haslett, it was horrendous.
"That last four minutes before the half was probably the worst football I've seen in a long time," Haslett said. "You've got missed tackles. You have an interception that goes through your hands for a touchdown. You can't get out of your own way on offense. ..."
And suddenly, a 10-7 deficit mushroomed into a 24-7 hole.
The way the Rams responded after Marc Bulger's interception was returned for a touchdown by Antrel Rolle looked very much like the old Rams. The Scott Linehan Rams.
"We didn't handle it very well," Haslett said.
So what happens next? Is there any hope?
"We're in a situation right now where we just lost two games in a row, we're going on the road to play a good (New York Jets) football team, with maybe the best quarterback (Brett Favre) that ever played the game," Haslett said.
"You're down, you're injured, you've got a bunch of nicks and bruises, and who the heck knows who's going to play. ... This should be a great challenge for us to see if we go up and respond."
Otherwise, it could be an ugly afternoon in the Meadowlands, perhaps foreshadowing an ugly second half of the season. The Rams made it clear in September that they weren't responding to Linehan. Now comes a true test of how they respond to Haslett.
"We had a chance to get back in the race in our division," defensive end Leonard Little said after Sunday's loss.
"It's really disappointing," said running back Steven Jackson. "We have so much talent in this locker room."
Based on the past year and half, there's obviously not enough talent to win on a consistent basis. Over the next eight Sundays, many Rams will be playing for their jobs, be it returning to St. Louis or returning to the NFL next year. Haslett is playing for his job as well, at least when it comes to returning as head coach in St. Louis in 2009.
For his part, Haslett wants to keep the focus narrow over these final eight weeks.
"We're not going to change our approach," he said. "The most important thing is that we go try to get a win this week. ... I don't think you can look ahead, you've just got to take it one game at a time. It changes every week. Your personnel changes, the game changes, the situation changes every week. It's just how you handle it."
The Rams must try to handle it against a Jets team that is fourth in the league in rush defense, third in sacks, is coming off a gut-check victory at Buffalo and is now tied for the AFC East lead at 5-3.
RAMS SIGN GADO
Running back Samkon Gado, a Nigerian native who gained attention with the Green Bay Packers in 2005, was signed to the active roster Tuesday.
"He's our No. 2 running back as of now," said Billy Devaney, the Rams' executive vice president of player personnel.
The Rams feel Gado is bright enough — he was a pre-med major in college — to grasp enough of the offense this week to run a small package of plays against the New York Jets if need be.
Antonio Pittman is expected to miss the Jets game with a hamstring injury. Travis Minor (concussion) did not pass his neuro-psyche test Tuesday and will be tested again Friday. So if Steven Jackson's right thigh isn't healthy enough for him to play, it will be Kenneth Darby and Gado as the running backs Sunday.
Gado, 5-10, 225 pounds, had three 100-yard games for Green Bay in '05 but subsequently bounced around to Houston and Miami.
Linebacker David Vobora was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad; the team needs another body at that position because of Chris Draft's foot injury. ... Wide receivers Dante Hall and Drew Bennett were officially placed on the injured reserve list Tuesday. ... Wide receiver Matt Caddell, running back Darius Walker and linebacker Kelly Poppinga were added to the practice squad, replacing Vobora and the released Russ Weil (fullback) and David Roach (safety). ... Tests on defensive end Eric Moore's neck showed no serious injury.
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